Showing posts from June, 2013

The Fruit and Gifts of the Spirit -- Reflections

The lectionary reading from the Letters for the 6th Sunday after Pentecost is Galatians 5:1, 13-25, a passage that includes Paul's discussion of the fruit of the Spirit.  I'd like to share an excerpt from my newly published book Unfettered Spirit: Spiritual Gifts for the New Great Awakening, in which I take up the importance of this fruit to the Spirit-filled life. 


I’ve already mentioned the fruit of the Spirit, and we return to them now. Jesus says of humanity, “you will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles?” (Mt. 7:16). The Christian community, if it’s to be salt and light, will be a community that gives evidence of its relationship with God through the fruit it bears. Paul’s list of the nine “fruits of the Spirit” stands as a marker of the church’s spiritual health. On this basis, Phil Kenneson believes that the church is in fact seriously ill. In spite of apparent numerical growth, at least within the Eva…

So Much Better -- A Review

SO MUCH BETTER: How Thousands of Pastors Help Each Other Thrive (TCP The Columbia Partnership Leadership Series). Penny Long Marler, D. Bruce Roberts, Janet Maykus, James Bowers, Larry Dill, Brenda K. Harewood, Richard Hester, Sheila Kirton-Robbins, Marianne LaBarre, Lis Van Harten, Keilli Walker-Jones, Sustaining Pastoral Excellence Peer Learning Project. St. Louis:  Chalice Press, 2013.  Xix + 210 pages.

            Ministry can be, and often is, a lonely profession.  It is a rather unique profession, especially if one is engaged in parish ministry – especially for those who pastor small congregations with few or even no staff members.  Not only do many clergy live busy lives, but they often find themselves rather isolated.  Yes, there are parishioners with whom to engage, and perhaps a few clergy outside the congregation with which one is friendly, but finding the opportunity to truly engage with others going through the same kinds of things isn’t always easy.  Clergy can also find…

Wilderness, Monasteries, and Moral Spaces -- Sightings (Kristel Clayville)

The biblical image of the Garden of Eden seems to offer a vision of humanity living in perfect harmony with the rest of Creation.  Now that we live outside that sanctuary, harmony is less apparent.  Living as we do in an age when the human footprint on Creation is increasingly heavy, we must face questions about how to balance our presence the rest of the environment.  This is especially true due to the impact of climate change.   In this essay by Kristel Clayville, a PhD candidate at the University of Chicago Divinity School, raises important questions about our place in the environment -- in relation to the declining wolf population at Isle Royale National Park in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  I invite you to read and respond.

Sightings SightingsWilderness, Monasteries, and Moral Spacesby Kristel Clayville
Thursday |  June 27 2013In a recent article in the New York Times, “Predator and Prey, a Delicate Dance,” John Vucetich, Michael Nelson, and Rolf Pete…

Must We Rethink Marriage after the End of DOMA?

Yesterday was a momentous one for the United States.It took another important step toward full recognition of gay marriage.In striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, the Supreme Court recognized what a majority of Americans recognize – the train has left the station.Thirteen states, including two of the three most populous states in the Union have or will have in short order provided for marriage equality.The thirteen states that allow gay marriage, including California, represent about 25% of the nation’s population.I expect other states including one I grew up in (Oregon) and the one in which I currently live (Michigan), will join this movement in short order.I’ve commented already on some of the implications in an earlier post – immediately following the announcements --
It will take time for this to spread across the country, but even as we would think it inappropriate to ban interracial marriage today in …

Marriage Equality Moves Forward

This morning, even as I was bemoaning the Voting Rights Act decision of the day before, the Supreme Court issued two 5-4 rulings that will advance Marriage Equality in the United States.  First of all, the Justices declared the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional.  Thus, at the bare minimum, as implemented by the Federal Government, Same-gender couples who were married in states that allow same-gender marriage should get all the benefits allowed to hetero-sexual couples.  Just in terms of tax benefits this is huge.  More about this in a moment.
The second ruling is interesting.  The Court in another 5-4 ruling, but with an odd mixture of votes, decided that the plaintiffs in the Prop 8 case didn't have standing.  Since the State of California chose not to defend the law, which was struck down by a lower court, SCOTUS ruled that private citizens can't take up the case.  Thus, it would seem that the lower court ruling stands, and thus same-gender marriages can…

Things Have Changed? Race and Voting Rights in America

The rationale for the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was that there was overt suppression of voting rights for non-whites in certain regions of the country, especially in the South, where Jim Crow laws had reigned.  The argument made by the Chief Justice, John Roberts, for overturning a key provision of the Voting Rights Act was that things had changed.  Now, it could be that Congress could come up with a new formula, but the chance of that happening is about as great as me becoming Pope.  At least in the current climate not much chance of that happening.  Now, last night as Brett and I were watching the Daily Show with substitute anchor John Oliver, I heard what I think is one of the wittiest riposte's to the Court's decision.
Take a watch if you dare --

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Get More: Daily Show Full Episodes,Indecision Political Humor,The Daily Show on Facebook

So, what do you think? Have things changed so much in America that race/ethnicity is no longer of any concer…

What's Next for Voting Rights in America?

In one of the most anticipated Supreme Court rulings, the SCOTUS nullified Section 4B of the Voting Rights Act.  They left intact Section 5, which requires certain states/counties to get pre-clearance from the Justice Department before making changes to their voting laws.  At issue is the formula used to determine the jurisdictions needing pre-clearance.  It was argued by the plaintiffs that Southern states, which were the worst offenders in earlier decades are being unfairly targeted.  
As I read the reports it appears that Congress could redo the formula based on recent voting patterns.  That would be fine, if it weren't for the fact that it will be almost impossible to get Congress to enact the changed formula.  Thus, there is a pre-clearance requirement, but no criteria upon which to rule.  Therefore, Section 5 is essentially muted.
Now, what does this mean for the future of voting rights in America?  The majority rulings appeals to the fact that things have gotten better ove…

Evangelical Ministry to Gays and Lesbians Admits It Caused Harm -- Sightings (Martin Marty)

On the eve of what could be a monumental set of Supreme Court rulings on marriage equality, one of the leading "ex-gay ministries," shut down.  In doing so Exodus International President Alan Chambers admitted it had caused great harm to those who are homosexual.  It was no half-hearted apology.  It was a full-fledged  repentance (to use religious terminology).  In this piece Martin Marty again brings his keen ability to catch the essence  of the issue and share the resources to further the conversation.  There is resistance to this trend, but the pathway to marriage equality seems to be by widening and lengthening.  So, the question is -- how will the church respond?

Sightings SightingsEvangelical Ministry to Gays and Lesbians Admits It Caused Harmby Martin E. Marty
Monday | June 24 2013 Notice the tenses in Wikipedia’s entry on “Exodus International” posted only a day or two after events necessitated a change from the word “is” to “was”. Quote: “Exod…

Worshiping With Charles Darwin -- Coming Soon

Christians can accept evolution without dumping God.Worshiping with Charles Darwin: Sermons and Essays Touching on Matters of Faith and Science, shows why and how we can logically and religiously embrace both. Dr. Robert D. Cornwall uses mind and heart, empirical evidence and Scripture to cogently guide pastors, theologians, lay leaders, and congregants through the troubling waters of one of the most controversial topics plaguing Christianity today. When this dreaded topic is broached, emotions often run high and Christian charity is frequently absent. Bob Cornwall explores with courage and insight, here and in the pulpit, as pastor of Central Woodward Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Troy, Michigan. He takes on the evolution/faith quandary openly and regularly through his sermons, his commemoration of Evolution Sunday (on the Sunday nearest Charles Darwin’s February birthday), and his columns in the local newspaper, The Troy Patch. Worshiping with Charles Darwin will help you …

Clothed With Christ -- A Sermon for Pentecost 5C

Galatians 3:23-29

“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”  Thus, saith Mark Twain (or at least the online quote pages say so).   What we wear does say something about us.  If you wear a suit and tie to work that suggests one thing, while overalls something else.  Shorts and a T-shirt are  something else still.  Some members of the clergy wear a collar, which suggests that they are working for God.  Some of us go incognito and don’t wear anything special. As women have entered the workforce and political life, they have wrestled with what to wear.  Remember how Hillary Clinton’s pant suits became the talk of the country during the 2008 primary season.  I think she called herself “Have Pant-Suit will travel.”  Wearing a dress might suggest that she was running for First Lady rather than President, so she chose the Pant-Suit.  Yes, clothes can speak volumes about who we are, where we come from, our economic status, and what we do with our lives.